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LITERARY    LIFE                        245
consequently was least ridden with classical standards, and constantly grew and profited from that freedom. Because Chinese dramatic composition happened to be largely poetry, it was accepted as literature on a higher level than the novels,
and almost OR a par with the Tang lyrics. Scholars were less ashamed to be known as writing dramatic works than writing
novels.   On the whole, the authorship of dramas was not
anonymous or subject to debate like the authorship of novels* From now on we shall see how that body of imaginative literature constantly grew in beauty and importance until it compelled recognition in modern times on its own merits, and exerted an influence over the people as no classical literature ever succeeded in doing.
This hybrid character of the Chinese drama accounts for its peculiar composition and also for its great popular influence. The Chinese drama is a combination of dialogues in the spoken language, which on the whole is readily intelligible to the populace, and songs which are sung and often partake of a high poetic quality. Its nature is therefore entirely different from that of the conventional English play. The songs come in at short intervals and are more in prominence than the spoken parts. As Is natural, the comic plays are more in dialogue, while the tragedies or dramas of human loves and sorrows more often burst out into songs. Actually, the theatre is attended, from the point of view of the Chinese theatre-goer, more for its singing than for its acting. One speaks of going to "listen" to a play, rather than to "see** it. It would seem, therefore, that the translation of the Chinese word hsi as "drama" is misleading, and it would be more proper to speak of it as Chinese "opera.55
Only by understanding the Chinese hsi as a form of opera will its wide appeal to the people, as well as the peculiarities of its composition, be truly understood. For the appeal of the _ drama—especially of the modem English drama—is largely an appeal to the understanding^ while the opera makes a combined appeal to the senses of colour, voice, atmosphere and emotion. The medium of the drama is the spoken language, but that of the opera is music and the song. A theatre-goer who attends a play expects to follow a story which pleases him